Hilary accessed free personal training with Don’t Tone Alone through Brent Carers – a group that has given her plenty of support in the past.
“I have a disabled child and I’ve been a carer since he was born – he’s now 14. He has autism and ADHD, which is very hard to deal with and very stressful,” she says.
“I had six training sessions with Sandra, who was really, really good. My husband had six sessions too, as he’s a carer as well.
“The training meant a lot to me and I looked forward to it each week. It motivated me. It’s not that I’m lazy – I’m always on the go – but I didn’t do exercise, because I didn’t think about it and I was a bit low.”
Hilary feels the training made a real difference. “It helped me relieve stress and gave me someone to talk to as well. It’s isolating being a carer. Sandra’s a really great lady – really caring and understanding.”
Sandra took on board that Hilary has rheumatoid arthritis and problems with her back, and tailored the exercise routine to suit her needs. “We did Pilates and weight-bearing exercises with light weights, which I needed. We also did relaxation exercises and power walking. Sandra let me do whatever I wanted to do. If I didn’t feel like power walking one day, we did breathing exercises instead.”
Meanwhile, Hilary’s husband Mark, who is also a carer, had his own sessions. “She did a lot of relaxation exercises with him and, as he’s got bad feet, foot exercises.”
Hilary says the sessions have had a lasting effect. “I still use the breathing exercises she taught me, when I’m stressed and not taking care of myself. You do tend not to look after yourself when you’re a carer,” she says.